TagReview

Lawyer Jim’s bike light recommendation

At Monday’s Moving Design meeting, Lawyer Jim Freeman spoke about bicycling, bike crashes, and the law.

“Be conspicuous” is half his motto. (I forgot the other half.)

During Q&A, I asked Jim, “If I had $20 to buy a bike light, which one should I buy?”

Jim had no trouble answering that bicyclists should have something at least as capable as the Planet Bike Beamer 3. I agree. It has three LEDs, comes with batteries, has a flashing mode, is easy to mount on your handlebars, and really costs just $20. Ride legally at night in the State of Illinois with it!

I’m a huge fan of Planet Bike products, as you’ll see on my bicycle product reviews page.

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I value photography

I’ve made photography a very important feature of this blog. The photos help me tell the story. I spend an equal time taking and processing photos for the blog as I do writing it. I take over 200 photos each week. When I travel, I take 1,000 photos. Of 5,814 published photos, almost 64% have been added to the map, bringing more context to the subject and allowing it to be discovered geographically.

I think photography (and photos) is an important aspect of quality urban planning. When talking to the public and trying to get across your ideas, photos and other graphics make a vision come to life. They demonstrate what is and what could be. The right photo will invoke, without prompting, passion and enthusiasm – support you might need. The wrong photo may do the opposite, or have no effect at all. Take as many photos as needed so you ensure they will intimate the feelings you need for your project, or story.

What’s the story here? It could be several things. Simply, that it snowed recently. Or complexly, that while growth in this area has been phenomenal and immediately recognizable (most of the visible buildings starting at the blue-topped one and going south did not exist 10 years ago), our 100 year-old electric interurban train still runs.

I take photos for two reasons: to share on my blog, and to share them publicly, worldwide so that anyone who needs a photo can find it. A variety of my photos have been used to narrate events and ideas in organizational publications (with and without attribution), websites, and even a book!

I want my readers to take photography seriously. I don’t want you to be discouraged by that term, either. Don’t think you need a good camera or know how to take good pictures. Begin today and take one photo per day for a year. In one year, you will be an extremely proficient photographer (or “picture taker”). You’ll be able to tell your story, without a caption, in little time.

Read more about my photographic arsenal:

This photo tells us about the practice of designing malls, and designing malls for dense cities (like Chicago, where it’s located). The escalators are designed to get you in fast, but getting out requires a bit more walking.

Readers Ask: Choosing a GPS-enabled camera

Readers Ask. Once or twice a month, a blog reader asks me a question about GIS, software, or schools. I’ll be relaying my responses and answers in this new column. This is the first entry.

Question

On Oct 29, 2010, J wrote:

I see from your blog that you use the Sony  DSC-HX5V camera to record the locations/photos, and that you also use ESRI software.  I am just about to buy that same camera for my work, and have been looking for information about if it is easy (or not) to upload the info in Arcinfo/ESRI software.  Would you mind letting me know?

Thanks,

J

I used an external GPS logger to create the map of my bicycle trip around New York City.

Response

Hi J,

I have no experience with using the GPS in the camera. I believed that reception would be poor, especially in urban areas, like where I live – Chicago. I use an external GPS logger (in the same list as the camera) and external antenna. When I get back from a trip, I use software to link the GPS tracks with the photos. The software embeds the coordinates into the JPEG metadata.

I also have no experience using GPS with ArcInfo. I know that ArcExplorer Desktop allows you to import GPX (GPS XML files) but I don’t know what you can do with them in the program. I tried, but failed. I use Windows inside Parallels for Mac, so not everything works 100% of the time.

I did load a GPX file from my external GPS logger into QGIS using the GpsTools plugin. I can export a shapefile from it to work in ArcGIS just fine.

I looked at your organization’s website and it seems you work in the open country. I think you’ll have better GPS tracking results out there with the camera than I do in Chicago. Even with the external antenna, the results in Chicago can be weird – it seems the signals bounce off skyscrapers and trick the GPS receiver into thinking it’s in Lake Michigan.

Lastly, I do recommend the camera for its low-light capabilities, iSweep panorama mode, and 1080i60 HD movie mode.

Steve – contact me

Cargo bike review in Momentum Magazine

Go read my first-ever article published in a magazine!

Turn to page 48 of Momentum, a magazine for people who like bikes. You can view it in its print form here or read the article on the magazine website.

A photo of the review. The printed photo was taken by Stefano Rini.

Carrying three bags of recycling to the drop-off center in Bridgeport. My goal was to get a bike that can carry as much as possible.

Seattle trip and new camera

My recent 6 night, 7 day trip to the Pacific Northwest gave me the perfect opportunity to test out my new camera that arrived only days before my departure.

I purchased a Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX5V (Sony should follow a simpler product naming scheme) from RitzCamera.com (which seems to be a different operation than Ritz Camera stores).

I bought the camera for its HD video (1080i60), decent image quality, wide-angle lens, and loads of neat features. I used the camera on every day of my trip and the results please me. The most significant neat feature is a mode called “Handheld Twilight.” The camera takes up to six shots (in one second) at different exposure and ISO settings, and then blends the photos together – and without flash. Because of this feature and the other low-light enhancing features, I don’t think I used the flash more than once or twice on my trip.

This photo of the Space Needle at Seattle Center demonstrates the image quality as a result of Handheld Twilight mode.

This photo shows the lens width. I held the camera at less than arm’s length.

Another mode that helps in low-light situations is Anti-motion Blur. I’m not really sure of the difference between this mode and the Handheld Twilight mode (both take multiple shots in quick succession), but whenever I saw the flashing hand that indicates a probably shaky picture, I switched the camera to Anti-motion Blur. Great photos emerged!

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